Trust and Idea Flow

The elect-ability doctrine carried with it an agenda for renewing the NDP Brand. At the Halifax 2009 convention a motion to drop “New” from New Democrat Party to create a Canadian “Democratic Party never went to vote. It became clear the party membership strongly disapproved. At the Vancouver 2011 conference a motion was brought to the floor to drop the concept of democratic socialism from the preamble to the NDP constitution. For most members this was an introduction to the Preamble. Once read, the requested changes to the inspirational document were readily rejected by the membership. In 2013 the motion to drop democratic socialism from the constitution was introduced once again. This time the motion was passed through stealth. The MP's and staff were whipped in the vote. The vote was introduced almost clandestinely at the end of the conference as members were leaving to catch early flights. Discussion was cut short taking advantage of an earlier motion that mandated fewer speakers before a vote could be called. The machinations to drop the words democratic socialism from the constitution and thus “modernize the party” are particularly ironic in that the UK Labour Party is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, an avowed socialist and Bernie Sanders is running as a socialist for the Democrat nomination. He is a leading contender. The word socialism is once again an acceptable word.

Tactics that use stealth to betray a group’s sense of consensus may achieve their slow thinking objective but the reactions they elicit in fast thinking are less than desirable. Words were changed in the Preamble to the NDP constitution but the action breaks faith with the collective intelligence of the group. Pentland notes social learning is most likely to occur when the reference group for that learning is trusted. Stealth maneuvers that break with an underlying consensus of the group, jeopardize that trust. It flies in the face of the collective wisdom of the labour movement. In unity there is strength. This stealth maneuver at the convention is only one of many examples of the Mulcair team making slow thinking victories that create mistrust in the fast thinking and collective wisdom of the party faithful. .

Mulcair as leader further exacerbates the level of trust among the NDP rank and file. Mulcair seems to conform to the other major parties in submitting to the blind support of Israel in its illegal occupation and settlement of Palestinian territories. The Mulcair team claims they support NDP policy which demands Israel obey international law and withdraw from Palestine. Yet the NDP leadership have remained mute to Israeli injustices and discouraged rank and file support of Palestinian rights. They have turned their head and have mutely encouraged Israeli expansion of settlements and the disproportionate killing of Palestinians (2100 deaths in the 2014 assault on Gaza). The leadership instead of upholding NDP policy concerning Palestine, have engaged in a purge of pro-Palestinian candidates in the NDP caucus. In Nanaimo/Ladysmith, the consecutive riding association nominations of Paul Manly and Laurie Gourley were both overturned by the central party and finally replaced by a central party selection, Sheila Malcolmson. Later Morgan Wheeldon and Jerry Natanine met similar fates. Independent Jewish Voices said this about NDP suppression of Wheeldon’s free speech in his social media comments:

“Mr. Wheeldon was publicly smeared by the Conservative party and Canada’s Israel lobby for speaking the truth about Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians, through Israel’s decades-long, ongoing project of expelling the native inhabitants from their lands, and demolishing their homes. In other words, the forced removal of one ethnic group to make way for another, or ethnic cleansing.[6]

These breaches of trust created a narrative that was quite effectively exploited by the Liberals even as Liberal conduct catered equally if not more to centralized control. I recall an article by progressives speaking out against injustice in the party with the title: Is Mulcair a Harper with a Beard? At the end of August I was canvasing in the Alberta bi-election to replace Jim Prentice. I recall a discussion I had with a voter I recruited for the Alberta NDP. He was trying to convince me to vote Liberal in the federal election. He told me a story about a relative of his in Ontario who experienced the nastiness of Mulcair's use of power to control his caucus. “Just like Harper”, he concluded. I didn't give the story much credibility but the narrative was out there.

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